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The blog for ambitious founders.

My blog covers the MANY highs and lows of starting, scaling and selling my business for 7-figures, in just 4 years. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur then add your email below to get a new episode delivered every Wednesday.

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My mentors and me.

As a solo-founder I found it incredibly lonely at times running a business.

But along my journey I found a handful of mentors that either helped me avoid mistakes, or take opportunities that I'd have never seen.

Not only at the start when I was naive and new to entrepreneurship. But also when we were accelerating at our fastest, to make sure we didn't leave anything on the table.

At the time it felt a bit like it was a weakness to ask for help.

But of course in hindsight, it was absolutely a strength.

Nobody knows it all. And asking for help is like a cheat code to success.

Help can come in various forms and at various costs. It could be friends or family members. It could be investors. Or it could even be people you follow on social media.

In this blog I'll touch on the various mentors I had along my journey, and how they helped propel me to a 7-figure exit in just 4 years.

Mentor 1 - company age 5 days.

Yep, 5 days into my business journey and I was already asking for help. I contacted the local council as they had a free business advice service, including a bookkeeping course. I knew I didn't want to pay someone to do bookkeeping initially, so I went along.

I was paired with a mentor who had recently retired after selling his business. A completely different industry to mine, a very different journey (he ran his business for 30 years), but someone who had experienced some kind of version of what I wanted in life.

We met monthly for 12 months and I updated him on the various ups and downs of start-up life. He was a huge help when it came to making my first hires. Not because he was a recruitment genius, but because he gave me the confidence to do it.

The first time you hire someone it's pretty daunting. Can I afford it? How does it work? He was an incredible sounding board, and his calmness made even the riskiest decisions seem possible.

He'll never know quite how big an impact he had on my business and therefore my life. His advice was free, but priceless.

He was the first person I told about the sale of my business, outside of my family.

Mentor 2 - company age 18 months.

At this stage we were doing around £40k per month revenue. We had a growing team and all our forecasts suggested significant growth continuing.

I was still putting my bookkeeping skills to good use and had a bit of a crisis of confidence that maybe I was doing everything wrong and we weren't really making the profit I thought. It was time for me to get a 'grown up' to help me. This business was starting to get serious, so I should too.

I wanted someone of CFO quality but without the £150k salary. So I found a mentor that had worked as a CFO for international businesses and was up for supporting me for a couple of days a month.

I kept doing the bookkeeping for a while longer, and he made sure everything we did was legit. He charged £2.5k per month for the support, but it was worth 10 times that amount in the confidence and head space it gave me.

Having someone with that experience that I could bounce ideas off, or give tasks like setting up international entities or investment rounds was priceless.

He ended up becoming an investor and staying with us all the way to acquisition.

Mentor 3 - company age 2 years.

We'd kept growing and were now at around £1m revenue per year run rate. Things were going better than I could have ever imagined. And there lies the problem.

I'd never done anything like this before. I didn't know what the potential was. How far we could push this thing.

I knew I wanted to sell it one day, but I had absolutely no idea where to start with that process or how much I should be daydreaming about.

It was time to make the dream a reality. And the best way I could think to do that was to get the support from someone that had just done exactly what I wanted to do.

Mentor number 3 had just sold his own agency, in a very short time frame, for a lot of money. My feeling was that by having someone involved that had done it before, there was a much higher chance of it happening to me.

He came on board as an investor. No cost as such, but obviously a big cost at the end when you sell.

My request to him was quite simple. I wanted him to drive me to achieve the growth needed to sell the business for millions. And he did. It wasn't always enjoyable, but it really worked.

We went from growing £2k some months, £5k other months to £10k per month, every month. It wasn't an option to miss target. We knew we had to justify the figures and this really motivated us to make sure it was always good news.

The business changed during this phase. Growth increased but enjoyment decreased. It definitely felt like I had a proper job all of a sudden. My mind was taken over completely by the business. But I knew it was a necessary evil if I wanted to get the big reward.

Mentor 4 - company age 3 years.

I brought in one more mentor just as we started preparing for our acquisition year. He came on board as an investor and he had recently sold his agency for a significant number.

Again, I wanted to surround myself with people that had done what I wanted to do.

At the point he joined, we had the momentum to get to the acquisition without further support. But he gave me great advice throughout the acquisition process. He kept my spirits up during due diligence and reminded me how great life would be after the signature. He also gave me advice on which deal to accept, based on his experience as a founder, rather than what was best for him as an investor.

The M&A process is a bit mind boggling, but having a small group of people involved that knew the light at the end of the tunnel really existed was so valuable. It allowed me to keep daydreaming and ignore the inevitable ups and downs of the process.

Of course there were many more people that supported me throughout the journey. None more than my family, friends and the agency team. But it was the 4 mentors above that really helped push the company to the next level, at the exact times it needed it.

If you're starting or running a business, please don't see asking for help as a sign of weakness. Your bank balance will thank you in the future.


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